How to Install and activate SSL in WordPress with Really Simple SSL
Are you in search of the best SSL solution to secure your website? Do you want to know if Really Simple SSL is the right plugin for you?
SSL is a must-have security feature for any website on the internet that wants to protect its data. Most site owners get their SSL certificate from their web host but there are plenty of great options like Really Simple SSL.
In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look into what the Really Simple SSL plugin has to offer. We’ll also review its pricing, installation process, and alternatives. Before we dive into the review, let’s take a quick look at what SSL is.
What is SSL and How Does It Work?
To understand the Really Simple SSL plugin, you first need to know what SSL is and how it works.
It can get quite technical but we’ll explain it in the simplest of terms. All you need to know is that your website works by transferring data between servers and browsers. If this data is in plain text, hackers could intercept and steal it.
We all know that this is dangerous (for your users and your business) especially if you handle sensitive data like payment information, personal details of customers, and confidential business data.
This is where SSL comes in. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that encrypts the data while it’s in transit. This means no one can steal it and even if it falls into the wrong hands, the data will look like gibberish.
When you install SSL on your site, a padlock will appear in the address bar. You’ll also see that your site runs on HTTPs and not HTTP.
In case you choose not to have SSL, browsers like Google will mark your site as ‘Not Secure’ and display a warning to users to make them aware that their data is not safe with you.
So if you want to gain the trust of your users and make your website a success, you absolutely need SSL. Now let’s take a look at what Really Simple SSL is all about.
What is Really Simple SSL?
To get SSL for your site, usually, you’ll need to buy a certificate from your web host or an SSL provider. Then you need to go into your website’s control panel to install an SSL certificate.
You’ll also need to manually change your website’s URLs from HTTP to HTTPs.
The process can be quite technical and can cause a number of errors if not done correctly.
Really Simple SSL has made this process incredibly simple.
It automatically installs a free SSL certificate on your website and also migrates your site from HTTP to HTTPs. Plus, there are built-in features to quickly fix SSL-related issues on your site.
You can carry out the entire process with clicks and it takes just a couple of seconds. You’ll never need to use cPanel or change the coding of your site.
It’s no wonder that Really Simple SSL is by far the most popular SSL plugin for WordPress.
Now that you know what Really Simple SSL plugin is, let’s see if it’s actually safe to use.
Is Really Simple SSL Safe
When you use a WordPress plugin to add security measures to your site, one of the most important things you can ask yourself is whether the plugin itself is safe.
So can you trust Really Simple SSL and is it a reliable plugin?
The simple answer is yes!
Really Simple SSL is backed by a great team of developers that have been running the plugin for over 5 years.
The plugin is built on WordPress best practices. Plus, they have deliberately kept the plugin’s features to a minimum so that it’s lightweight.
This means you’ll get all the features you absolutely need without any bloated code. At the same time, Really Simple SSL plugin will never slow down your site.
Another great way to see if a plugin is reliable is to check its Last Updated date. You can find this info on the plugin’s page inside the WordPress repository.
This will show you whether the developers are maintaining the plugin to ensure that it’s compatible and secure.
You can also see other trust signs as well such as the number of active users, and compatibility with WordPress versions and PHP versions.
It has 5+ million installations with thousands of 5-star reviews which tells us that it’s a trusted plugin.
How Does Really Simple SSL Work?
Staying true to its name, the plugin makes installing an SSL certificate on your site really simple!
When you install the plugin, it first checks if there’s an existing SSL certificate. If your web host has issued an SSL certificate but it hasn’t been installed, the plugin will install it for you. This process may depend on your web hosting provider. If it can’t auto-install, then it will assist you with instructions.
If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it prompts you to activate a free SSL certificate.
Once you do that, the plugin will install a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. It will also fix most of the issues that are caused when you install a new SSL certificate. For instance, it will change your site’s URL and home URL from HTTP to HTTPs.
It will also redirect all incoming requests (users trying to access your site) to the HTTPs version of your site.
The Really Simple SSL plugin will also run a couple of technical tasks like setting cookies securely with PHP, fixing insecure or mixed content, and handling reverse proxy/load balancer.
If those words make no sense, then you absolutely need Really Simple SSL. The plugin runs these complex tasks behind the scenes so that you don’t have to worry about them.
Up next, we’ll show you how to use the Really Simple SSL plugin on your WordPress site.
How to Install and Use Really Simple SSL
Really Simple SSL is available for free inside the WordPress plugin repository. You can also purchase the Really Simple SSL Pro plugin which gives you access to more features and premium support. We’ll talk about the difference between the free and paid version in the next section.
Now we’ll show you how to use the Really Simple SSL plugin to install an SSL certificate on your site. In case you already have an SSL certificate installed, you can still use this plugin to fix any issues that your website is facing such as mixed content.
First, to install the plugin on your site, in your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins » Add New. Then search for “Really Simple SSL” and click on the Install Now button.
Once the plugin is installed, you’ll need to activate it. Then you’ll be redirected to your WordPress dashboard where you’ll see a prompt like this:
When you click on the Activate SSL button, Really Simple SSL will run all the background processes to install SSL on your site. It takes just seconds and you seriously have to do nothing.
Once it’s done, your website should now have a padlock in the address bar indicating that your site is secure.
Back on your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a list of SSL tasks. These give you more info on how to change settings that are out of the plugin’s reach.
You’ll find instructions on how to change your settings in Google Search Console so that the search engine uses only the HTTPs version of your site. This will make sure you’re getting accurate data and insights. For simplified instructions, you can follow our guide Fixing Google WebMasters After Installing SSL.
Next, the plugin also gives you instructions to add security measures and enable security headers to improve your website’s security.
If you scroll down, you’ll see more options to enable or disable settings on your site. These are:
- Mixed content fixer
- Enable WordPress 301 redirect
- Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
- Stop editing the .htaccess file
- Fire mixed content fixer with different method
- Dismiss all Really Simple SSL notices
- Enable High Contrast mode
If you are unsure about these settings, it’s best to leave them to the default settings. If you want to explore these settings and learn more about them, you’ll find tips and tricks on the right hand side of your screen.
You can also learn more about that in these guides from WPBeginner:
- Beginner’s Guide to Creating 301 Redirects in WordPress (Step by Step)
- .htaccess Tricks for WordPress
And that’s all there is to it. You’ve successfully installed and used Really Simple SSL.